Four Qualms about 'Legal Pragmatism'

27 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2013 Last revised: 17 Dec 2013

See all articles by Martin J. Stone

Martin J. Stone

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; New School for Social Research -- Philosophy

Date Written: October 8, 2013


I try to explain why I find “legal pragmatism” mostly useless in thinking about law. My qualms about “legal pragmatism” fall under four headings: (1) Empty eclecticism, (2) reductive instrumentalism, (3) “the primacy of practice” and (4) the metaphysically preservative recoil. Originally a talk at the 2012 Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference, "Law and Pragmatism" Panel.

Keywords: legal pragmatism, Posner, instrumentalism, primacy of practice, Wittgenstein, interpretation, pragmatic conceptualism

Suggested Citation

Stone, Martin J., Four Qualms about 'Legal Pragmatism' (October 8, 2013). Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper Faculty research Paper No. 415 . Available at SSRN: or

Martin J. Stone (Contact Author)

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-790-0279 (Phone)

New School for Social Research -- Philosophy ( email )

212.790.0279 (Phone)

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